I have a cable internet connection and I would like to set up a small web server at home. I could use my existing computer for this but I don't like to keep it on 24/7. I don't expect it to get many visitors (mostly me when I'm abroad) but I do want it to run 24/7.

I also want to develop my own web pages for it, which are developed in ASP.NET for Windows, so it needs to support Windows with IIS.

While I could use any computer for this, I am interested in knowing if there are some custom systems that are build especially for this purpose. I know there are plenty of Network disks that support FTP access and static web pages, and I've heard about similar disks with a full LAMP environment running on it, including PHP and MySQL.

I could use some cheap web hosting company instead but those often limit the amount of disk space. A home server would provide me a lot more disk space.

So, any options?

(One more requirement: It needs to be as small as possible!)

  • 2
    Though it doesn't meet your other requirements, just as a reference for your as small as possible, XPort Embedded Ethernet Device Server — a web server in an ethernet connector, lantronix.com/device-networking/embedded-device-servers/…
    – Arjan
    Nov 11, 2009 at 12:16
  • Isn't this a Server Fault question?
    – CarlF
    Nov 11, 2009 at 15:21
  • @CarlF, I've considered SF, but SF is for more professional usage. This is more a hobby project. Or home usage. When your server only serves only one user, it's not a real useful server-related question. ;-) Nov 11, 2009 at 21:50
  • True. SF is purely professional. Mention the word home and you get kicked back to SU. Maybe we should rename it to bofh.stackexchange. ;-)
    – Hennes
    Apr 16, 2013 at 14:16

6 Answers 6


First: Check with your ISP to see if that is or is not a violation of your TOS. Some cable companies get all in a twist if you start hosting a website and you're not using their "screw the small business" package.

Second: How much disk space do you really need? You start out saying you don't need it to take up a lot of space, and then say that shared hosting is too small... FWIW 1 and 1 has some decent cheap hosting with enough space for me to run 3 low traffic sites, one of which has the last 2 years of sermons as MP3 available for download.

Lastly: Decide what your ultimate goal is. If you are ultimately going to put this on a server with IIS (for work, for someone else, or whatever) you're probably better off starting with IIS. Last thing you need to do is code around some quirk in another server software only to find it jacks with something in IIS.

There are other lightweight web servers out there, and they have been discussed in great detail at StackOverflow and ServerFault.

  • 1
    (first) Checked with my ISP, who allows "fair use". Not going to have lots of visitors anyway. Or lots of requests. (second) I will be hosting my photo collection plus rendered artwork. (About half a TB.) These are already stored on an external network disk but this disk doesn't provide hosting options. (last) My ultimate goal is to learn more about web development and hosting, plus I want to be able to maintain my photo gallery when I'm abroad. Nov 11, 2009 at 13:33
  • I developed ASP.Net using IIS (back on XP Pro), once setup and running it just works and I recommend it actually. Try it before any alternatives.
    – invert
    Nov 12, 2009 at 13:06

It sounds like a custom setup you have there.

LAMP supports PHP/MySQL, but for ASP.Net you need to use Internet Information Services.

UltiDev is an alternative ASP.Net web server, but I have not used it and can't say how it performs.

Setup a separate box with either IIS or any alternative ASP.Net server and FTP server. I recommend you configure both of those to use non-standard ports, to maximize security, and a firewall to lock down all other unused ports.

FileZilla Server should provide your with the FTP functionality

  • You can run ASP.NET on LAMP using the Mono project. From what I understand its improved considerably since I first looked into it.
    – AnonJr
    Nov 11, 2009 at 11:54
  • Although ASP.NET will run on LAMP with Mono, it's not completely compatible with .NET 3.5 and I want to use this server to experiment with. I want to improve my web development skills and also learn more about web hosting in general. Thus, no LAMP... Nov 11, 2009 at 13:29

I recommend building something to your hardware specifications such as large hard disk and or powerful cpu. Than install Windows 2003 or 2008 server on it. After you do that you can use the IIS built in to the operating system, and you could use miniportal for the rest of the services such as pro/pure ftpd, httpd, dns etc...

recommendation: just rent a windows vps from a reliable data center such as PEAK the same company that host SuperUser.com and StackOverflow.com check them out peakinternet.com

  • For a site that would get 1 visitor on average, I'd be throwing away money while renting a windows vps. Besides, I want to build up experience with web hosting myself! Nov 11, 2009 at 11:37

I think you could make a good system with a ASRock ION Atom system. It's a very cheap and power efficient system that runs windows. Thing is you have to recase it with 2 big hard drives instead of the 2,5 inch 320Gb one, if you need more than 1 2,5 inch drive. But in its basic form its really tiny and power efficient.

If you want total built to order, you might want to check: www.mini-itx.com

They have a built-to-order rack server based on the low-power atom boards. For 380 pounds you have a dual core Atom server with 2x gigabit ethernet, 2Gb ram, DVD drive and 2x1Tb 3,5 inch hard drives. Not so tiny, but not big considered its a real rack server.

If you just want to store a lot of stuff online, remember that Hotmail accounts have a 30Gb Skydrive which works pretty well.

  • I have about 500 GB of digital pictures and rendered artwork that I want to maintain from my own gallery. I would need about 17 Hotmail accounts to store that much. :-) Nov 11, 2009 at 13:39

I hear what you say about wanting experience of running your own webserver. I considered that option myself. But I am glad that I stuck with my ISP simply because of hackers, we ordinary webmasters have no idea of their dasterdly tricks.

A novice inernet site is to hackers like blood is to piranhas. That said, if are determined to setup your own site, then I am sure that you will learn to fend off attacks, and I wish you luck.

  • I'm not really a novice since I've been developing software for over 25 years, dealt a lot with security issues in all kinds of environments and have been using a web host for over 10 years now. It's just that I now want to have things more under my own control. (And yes, keeping it safe from hackers is one of the things I will want to learn more about.) Nov 11, 2009 at 13:35

You could try a Windows Home Server setup - it is aimed at home users who want to consolidate files, photos, document onto a central server, but it also allows remote access via a custom domain name (yourname.homeserver.com).

From the WHS remote access web page, you can access your files, music, documents or whatever. You can customise the pages to a limited extent, but you could add a link to another IIS website on the same server.

You can buy a preconfigured server (check out the HP MediaSmart series) or build your own.

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